x.jpg Just posted over on Gamasutra is Harmonix designer Chris Canfield's new feature, 'Establishing A Beachhead In A Crowded Genre', and it's pretty much deals with an obvious, but vital theme for developers: "How do you make a game that will stand out apart from countless other similar titles?"

His first point seems excellent - you should "gut the key elements of the design", and he references a game that does just that: "Removing these old structures changes the player’s experience. Probably the best example of "strip and add" success is Wii Sports. As traditional mainstream tennis games go, Wii Sports is poorly lacking. There is no ball selection, no racket selection, no character selection, no arena selection, no stats to power up... even player control of the character was removed from the formula. Ultimately, this lets the player concentrate exclusively on the unique new aspect of racket control, and allows them to play it in a different context."

Further on, another smart one: "Add a signature to the design of your game", described thus: "The equivalent of a set piece for an entire game is a signature element, and more than anything else this establishes your creative beachhead. This is the one memorable, intriguing element that both grips them emotionally and sets you apart from the rest. Think of this as the image for the early Spider Man movies of Spidey up alone on a pole flying the American flag... This succinctly encompassed the solidarity and morality of the character, and set an indelible stamp in the minds of the viewers. Early on in development, most teams already have one or two ideas about what will grip their players."